Easter Baskets

While we were eating our noon meal, Mom asked Daddy when she would be able to go shopping in Marshfield. I perked up because Easter was three weeks away. Mom was sure to buy candy for my Easter basket. Mom said, “I want to buy material so I can make the girls’ dresses and I want to look at spring jackets and hats.”

Daddy took a bite of buttered homemade bread and thought a moment. He said, “We can go in right after we’re done eating today. That’ll give you about four hours to shop since I have to get back in time to start the evening milking chores.”

Although our farm was only 12 miles from the city of Marshfield, Wisconsin, my family very infrequently went there on shopping trips. Most of the everyday things we needed could be bought from one of the stores in the closer but smaller town of Stratford. Excited about the rare treat of going on a shopping trip, I went to find and put on my coat.

Mom fluttered around clearing the dishes from our kitchen table. In her mind it was unthinkable that we would go anywhere and leave the house in disorder. When she glanced up and saw me standing at the entrance wearing my mud-spattered school coat, she exclaimed, “You can’t wear that to Marshfield! You’ll have to put on your Sunday coat. We’ll clean that tonight!”

Clean snow dotted the farm fields along the muddy gravel farm roads. Dirty banks of snow lined the clean, dry highway. In Marshfield, all traces of snow were gone from the paved streets. The spring sunshine even felt warmer there than at home on the farm. Mom’s first stop was a fabric store. I sighed with resignation. Trying to be patient while she spent long periods of time looking at pattern books was hard. I wanted to go to interesting stores and buy fun things.

Mom used her four-hour shopping trip to buy patterns, colorful materials, hats, a lavender spring jacket for me and various Easter goodies. In the car on the way home, Daddy said, “We have to make one more stop.” When he pulled up to Clover Cream, I cheered. A huge ice cream cone to eat on the way home was the perfect way to end our amazing shopping trip.

In the days leading up to Easter, Mom sewed dresses and had everyone try them on with their Easter bonnets. She baked cupcakes and topped them with fluffy white frosting and sprinkled them with shredded coconut that had been dyed green with food coloring. Her finishing touch was the placement of three jelly beans to make each cupcake look like a small nest.

On the Saturday before Easter, the highlight for me was the coloring of our Easter eggs. We made sure to make plenty of purple eggs because that was Mom’s favorite color. We rubbed the colored eggs with oil to make them shine. I loved the way they looked. Their bright, happy colors seemed to scream that spring had finally sprung. 

That afternoon Mom showed me a small bottle and said, “I don’t like the way my hair that has turned white looks yellow. This bluing rinse takes away the yellow and gives hair a nice, natural gray color.” When Mom’s hair was dry and out of curlers, her hair didn’t look yellowish any more. I thought it looked slightly blue, but didn’t say anything.

On Easter Sunday morning, we dressed in our best dresses and coats. Mom, my sisters and I wore dress gloves and flower-trimmed hats. I put on my new lavender jacket and carried a small patent leather purse. All I had in it was a handkerchief trimmed with hand crocheted lace around the edges.

In church, it was easy to tell that all the other families were dressed in their Easter fineries, too. Looking around, I couldn’t help giggling. All the older women who had grey or white hair must have used the same bluing hair rinse as Mom. Their carefully styled hairdos were various shades of blue, violet, and pale pink, looking lovely with their pink, yellow, mint green, blue and lavender spring coats and hats. I thought, “Everyone looks as pretty and colorful as colored eggs in an Easter basket!”

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